Teacher's school bedtime chart goes viral, stirs controversy

KENOSHA, Wis. — With the dog days of summer long gone and children heading back to school, establishing a routine again can prove to be a tricky task for parents.

A Wisconsin teacher set out to make that transition easier by releasing a bedtime cheat sheet that’s making waves across the globe.

Stacy Karlsen teaches kindergarten and first grade at Wilson Elementary School in Kenosha, according to Kenosha News. She said she saw the chart — which recommends bedtimes based on age and school start times — on social media, thought it might be helpful and posted it to the school’s Facebook page.

“I thought, ‘School’s starting up; what a great opportunity to share some helpful information,'” she told Kenosha News. “I thought it might help our Wilson families, and I honestly didn’t think anyone would share it at all.”

But the chart caught the attention of parents from Wisconsin all the way to Dubai — it’s been shared nearly 400,000 times since its Aug. 28 posting.

The chart recommends children between the ages of 5 and 8 should be going to bed between 6:45 and 7:30 if they need to wake up by 6 a.m. Children between the ages of 9 and 12 are urged to hit the sack between 7:30 and 8:15 to rise by 6. Bedtimes get later in 15 minutes increments based on how much longer the child is allowed to sleep in.

Many parents praised the chart on Facebook.

“I have four kids and I catch a lot of flak for their bedtimes,” wrote one mother. “I started out setting their bedtimes for how much sleep they need based on their age. Glad to see this chart justify the exact times we have already set.”

Another wrote, “Putting this up in my office!”

But while many count the chart as scripture, others are scoffing at its “unrealistic” recommendations.

“Yeah right!” wrote one mother on Facebook. “If you can’t get the kid to sleep based on this chart, is it the benchmark for good parenting?”

“Parents know their own children and know how much sleep they need,” wrote another. “It seems that there are charts for everything nowadays. Parents, go with your gut.”

Working parents seemed particularly peeved by the chart, calling it “impossible” to follow considering the fact that children have homework and need to eat dinner. Multiple experts seem to agree.

“A child’s sleep and wake up schedule depends on a lot of factors: homework, activities, what time parents get home from work, what time the child has to wake up for school,” psychotherapist Heather Turgeon told the Huffington Post. “It’s a puzzle, but sleep should be a priority. If your child needs to be woken up in the morning, it’s time to pare down on activities and shift the schedule earlier.”

Other experts say it really comes down to your individual schedule and needs.

“At best, this is an interesting chart to look at, but in reality, it may not work for your particular kid or family,” Kelly Glazer Baron with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine told the Huffington Post.

As for Karlsen and the rest of the staff at Wilson — a school with just 200 students — the reaction to the post has been completely shocking.

“This is wild,” principal Yolanda Jackson-Lewis told Kenosha News. “I hope some of these likes are our parents.”

Generally, pediatricians recommend children under 10 get about 10 hours of sleep, so parents can plan bedtimes accordingly. Additionally, when it comes to children, the earlier the bedtime, the better.

“Multiple studies show that children who go to bed before 9:00 get much more sleep than those who go to bed later than 9:00,” sleep expert Dr. Jodi Mindell told the Huffington Post.

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Jessica Ivins

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